Financial PTSD

How Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome Triggers Financial PTSD

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Do you feel sick to your stomach every time you spend $3 on a simple coffee?

Are you meticulously combing your debit history at least once a day?

Do thoughts of bills and frivolous purchases wake you up in the middle of the night in a panic?

Do you attach a dollar sign to everything?

If any of these set off alarm bells, you may be suffering from financial PTSD as an overlapping symptom of narcissistic abuse syndrome.

Narcissists have dangerous relationships with money, and we pay the price. As survivors of narcissistic abuse syndrome, recovery often requires overcoming the narcissistic financial abuse we suffered – sometimes for years.

Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and Complex PTSD

Many people don’t realize that suffering narcissistic abuse for weeks, months, or years can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) which often includes financial PTSD.

CPTSD differs from PTSD in that it’s caused by long-term trauma rather than a one-time event (like a car crash or hurricane). In most cases, the trauma that causes CPTSD comes from someone who was supposed to be a close loved one or caregiver.

CPTSD can destroy every aspect of your life from social interactions and future relationships to career goals and finances. The narcissist really does a number on your self-esteem and identity.

Instead of reading blog after blog about symptoms of narcissism, look inwards to how the relationship with the narcissist has affected you. Signs of general CPTSD from narcissistic abuse syndrome include

  • You always feel alone – even around friends and family.
  • You’re experiencing imposter syndrome – no matter how much you’ve accomplished on paper.
  • You feel like nothing you do will ever be good enough.
  • You constantly stress about money (financial PTSD).
  • Your relationship with the narcissist consumes all your thoughts, time, and energy (often due to fighting the same fights over and over).
  • You feel like you’re constantly “walking on eggshells” or on the verge of a panic attack.
  • You’ve changed your core values or key pieces of your identity to please the narcissist or conform to their idea of an ideal partner (which is ever-changing, thus impossible to achieve)
  • You believe you’re unworthy of a stable relationship, happiness, or affection.

5 Faces of Manipulative Narcissistic Financial Abuse

Every narcissist has an unhealthy relationship with money, and they unload these dangerous habits onto their victims which, in any cases, turns into financial PTSD.   Think of it like a computer virus that gets uploaded into your subconscious mind and continues multiplying until you’re completely obsessed with the financial abuse you’ve endured.

However, not every narcissist is the same. Narcissistic financial abuse takes many forms.

  1. The Moocher

The Moocher can’t hold down a decent job. They’ll rattle off one petty excuse after another as to why (of course it’s never their fault) but, it typically stems from a disdain for authority.

If there’s a loophole to swindle money, this narcissist will exploit it – whether it’s hiding assets to qualify for government assistance or calling the McDonald’s complaint line with lies for a $10 gift card.

When all else fails, you’re the one who fills the gap of course. Many people go into debt dealing with this type of narcissistic financial abuse and suffer long-term financial PTSD.

  1. The Dollar Lama

Typically male, this narcissist tends to earn moderate to high levels of income which they weaponize against their female partner.

The Dollar Lama often convinces their partner to quit their job (no matter how much money she makes or how successful she is) under the guise that he can handle it, which leads to financial PTSD.

That’s because he intends to control you – not take care of you.

  1. The Broker of Deafening Silence

This is your standard materialistic narcissist. They contribute financially to the relationship (often more than they need to) and believe this is all the relationship effort needed from them.

The Broker of Deafening Silence replaces emotional connection and affection with extravagant gifts, expensive jewelry, and vacations.

This narcissist loves to wield the silent treatment and executes it particularly well because they’re so far detached from any normal emotion.

  1. The Self-Appointed Princess

She may have a six-figure salary and a Ph.D. but would give it all up in a heartbeat if she finds a man willing to kneel at her feet.

The image of Jan Levinson from The Office comes to mind here when she drove Michael into debt after losing her C-level job.

Entitlement issues run strong and this doesn’t change when children enter the picture either. Mom always comes first. Her wardrobe and plastic surgery are at the top of her list of priorities.  The Self-Appointed Princess is also a master financial manipulator who loves to gaslight and play the perpetual victim.

  1. The Chronic Capitalist

Everything has a dollar sign attached to it – and you can’t afford it.

To this narcissist, if you can’t make money from something, it’s not worth doing.

Have an idea for a new hobby? The Chronic Capitalist will remind you that you’ll never be good enough to make money from it – so why bother?

Want to go back to school to improve your salary? Surely, they’ll support your dreams to make more money, right? This type of narcissist will remind you that you can’t afford it – haven’t you heard about the crippling debt of student loans?!

To the Chronic Capitalist, there’s always a reason you can’t do something. Hint: It’s always money.

Of course, when they want to do something *gasp* just for fun, the attitude suddenly turns into #TreatYoSelf.

Are You Suffering from Financial PTSD?

Dr. Mark Goulston M.D. describes narcissistic financial abuse as a vicious cycle: You’re constantly traumatized and re-traumatized so instead of focusing on actual solutions, you just become increasingly anxious and defenseless.

He calls it the 4 Ds of financial abuse:

  1. Debt: Every discussion about finances – no matter how mundane – becomes triggering and turns into a panic attack. You cringe as you swipe your card to buy a coffee without getting approval from the narcissist first.
  2. Dependency: You feel out of control and rely on the narcissist (often unwillingly) for access to money. They may make you feel guilty for either not earning as much as them or not sharing enough of your income with them.
  3. Distrust: You can’t trust the narcissist with joint finances because they’re either selfish, irresponsible, or both. They withhold your own money from you claiming that you can’t be trusted (gaslighting).
  4. Denial: We turn to denial as a coping tool when narcissistic abuse syndrome turns us into passive bystanders in our own lives and finances. You tell yourself that the narcissist really does know better so they should control the finances and if they don’t, is it really worth the argument?

Overcoming Financial PTSD Requires Diligent Recovery

Money shouldn’t consume all your thoughts. That’s not healthy.

Another world is possible. You know you can feel it and you know you deserve it.

You may not feel like there’s a way out and that you can never make it on your own but that’s the narcissistic abuse syndrome talking.

Narcissistic abuse breaks down your very identity. It strips away your sense of self and replaces it with 100% focus and attention to the narcissist. You feel worthless and you genuinely don’t believe you’re deserving of anything better. This is as good as it gets, right?

Recovering from narcissistic financial abuse requires a comprehensive plan. Until you address the underlying CPTSD symptoms, your financial PTSD will keep holding you back.   You’ll always feel like you’re broke and that you can’t possibly spend a single dollar on yourself.

Once you make it to the other side and come out stronger, you’ll wonder how you ever survived the abuse for so long.

Like someone suffering from substance abuse, you need a recovery program that can help you avoid relapse by learning about yourself, habits, and triggers.

The Essential Break Free Bootcamp may be the missing piece of the puzzle.  Alternately, you could contact different agencies in your community to see if they offer any classes for help with budgeting and job searches.

I know what you’re going through and I’m here to help. Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

Your healed life starts with one step...

Join thousands of others who have signed up for the free Email Recovery Course and Healing Roadmap. Includes expert advice and tips for encouragement and support. * Seating in my masterclass: 7 Proven Steps to Defeat Narcissistic Abuse PLUS +* How to Ease Anxiety * 16 Empowering Beliefs to Live By + more!

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7 comments
Cindy says November 28, 2019

Kim, I could use some help. I left my job because I was the one dropping off and picking up my kids. He never helped. My boss started to make new rules – no days off for snow, no two employees could be off at the same time. I resigned when it impacted my ability to care for my children. I have a prn job now and I’m slowly saving but I agreed to give him a certain amount each month to help pay bills so it’s a very slow process. He just bought himself a Mercedes and I buy my children’s clothes etc at Target or on eBay or clearance with my small paycheck. He hounds me about every dollar I spend. I can’t go to the grocery store without having to calm my anxiety at the register because I know I will get yelled at. I know I need to leave and I’m saving up for that but it’s the kids I worry about. I know I won’t make enough to give them the life he will. I know if I get a full time job – they will suffer – back in daycare for hours on end because he won’t pick them up or help out with them. He cleans all the time. My cleaning is never enough for him. He sees dirt where there isn’t any. Our counselors have told him he’s abusive and he has an anxiety disorder. He stops going. I stay for my kids, because they have a nice roof over their heads. I’d be long gone if I didn’t have children. I know he’s not right.

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Geraldine says November 1, 2019

That’s very interesting and might explain why my spending went a bit out of control (on line shopping) once he was out of my life. I recognised it was probably because I was depressed but I now see it is also because of being held back so long from being able to spend money.

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Sibahle says October 30, 2019

I don’t know where I’ll be without you Kim. My ex narc tried that ‘quit your job I’ll be able to take care of you’ line..but I thought about the struggle it to me & parents to finish at Varsity, after that got a job & still continuing with Post Grad studies..to just drop all of that for him, no. What’s worse is he left me to raise our kid on my own (was busy arranging work transfer when I was heavily pregnant, 1000 miles away!), I thought to myself, will never. So even with his kid (3 year), he just showers him with materialistic things, there’s no emotional connection, whatsoever. Anyway I thank God I came across you Kim, you’ve helped me so much.

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Bob says October 29, 2019

Kim this really hits home for me at this time, I’m a few months no contact ( well not really more like no response no contact ) (oh and the no response no contact is all about money) some times I feel ok about money other times I have much fear about finances. Reading this I think back about how the finances were an I could not make pay enough bills it was never enough. she always made me feel I was in adequate. while she spent vigorously. Trying to rebuild myself now I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it is right now. I though just finally leaving an going no contact would make me whole again, i’m finding out different if it wasn’t for the emotional support of my sister I wouldn’t be here and away from the circus. Some of my other family have ghosted me also, like i’m I big wrong one an she’s the poor victim, my own kids, they didn’t live with what I lived with, i’m hoping in time they will come to understand it was for the best for me and her. For now it’s one day at a time sometimes one hour at a time. The three years of almost total detachment while I was still living with didn’t prepare me for what i’m going through now.

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    Cindy says November 28, 2019

    Hang in there,
    You can’t stay with these people. You can still feel love for them but it’s best done without them ruling your life. I pray for mine every day. I love him but to be in love with him would mean I don’t care about my own well being. Forgive yourself. Forgive them and keep moving forward. Your kids will eventually see it. Proud of you for walking away!

    Reply
Anne Pemberton says October 29, 2019

This is very interesting but i believe the opposite is also true. I can earn well but im afraid of money., I give it away because of my fear of abundance due to having a narc mother then a very long (35y) narc / empath marriage. Im free now fixing all my subconscious conditioning. I was exactly the person you described but money was wrapped up in sex and power and i was the breadwinner.

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    Kim Saeed says November 5, 2019

    Hi Anne, you bring up a good point. I’ve coached many women in your shoes. Best of luck as you dissolve those blocks to abundance!

    Kim XoXo

    Reply
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